Good Morning. This is State Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond.
Right now in Maine too many people are unemployed and many more, even though they have a job, are not earning enough to support their family. Over the last two years, every other state in the country is seeing their income grow, while Maine ranks dead last. This is unacceptable.
The best way to boost our economy, in the short-term, while also building it to last, is by focusing on our workforce. If we invest in people, people will have the tools necessary to take advantage of opportunity; incomes will rise and the middle class will grow.
This week Maine workers, Maine business and Maine’s economy received a small dose of positive news that shouldn’t be overlooked. Southern Maine Community College is providing worker training to 127 employees at Molnlycke Health Care in Brunswick. Maine Quality Center, a program of the Maine Community College System, granted $100,000 to the community college to train workers in the growing field of medical device manufacturing. Workforce training and partnership efforts, like these, are key to our state’s economic success. In this case, it allows and encourages this international company to expand in Maine and hire more Maine workers.
With job-specific training like this, Maine workers remain competitive in a demanding and diverse marketplace and meet the existing and future needs of a fast-growing company in a fast-paced industry. And, that builds the middle class.
With nearly 53,000 Mainers out of work, we need to explore every opportunity that can put our unemployed workers back to work. Democrats believe Maine people should be working their way into the middle class—not getting pushed out. Without job opportunities, without investment in our people, this cannot happen and will not be accomplished.
When people get back to work, our economy thrives and the middle class flourishes. But there are two sides to the equation of how to get working people back to work: On one side, jobs. And, on the other side, workers.
Much has been said about the job creators—and surely we must continue strengthening our efforts to encourage job creation and economic development. But we can’t ignore that without skilled workers, jobs will remain unfilled and workers will remain unemployed. Already, businesses in industries like fabricated metals are constrained from growing because they need, and can’t find, workers with the right skills—workers with more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills.
The key to our state’s economic recovery include policies and investments that take in to consideration both parts: job creation and workforce development. Under Governor LePage’s leadership, Maine has fallen short. Maine is at a critical point. In the last two years, under LePage’s tenure, Maine now ranks 45th in the country in job creation. It is time to put away the failed efforts of the last two years, and instead, build a new kind of economy—one that is focused on the demands of today and the jobs of the future.
Democrats believe that there must be a vision and strategy for how to create workers who are flexible and can respond to the ever-changing needs and demands of the workplace. We have tried and true examples of smart workforce development programs—efforts that produce results and are in partnership with the business community. We need to learn from programs with a proven track record and ramp up efforts elsewhere. Where there are areas for improvement, let’s improve them—and not dismantle a system whose focus is on workers. Workers are the backbone of our economy.
As lawmakers, our challenge is to invest our scarce dollars wisely. Making targeted investments that strengthen the skill set of Maine workers will improve our economy and grow the middle class. Promoting policies that empower individuals, encourage entrepreneurs, and strengthen businesses, will grow our economy. And even better, it will provide the ladder of opportunity so that Mainers can have a fair shot at getting ahead.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond. Have a great weekend—and let’s get to work!